Chapter 2

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It bugged the hell out of him, but Paul couldn’t stand to be away from Bella. It really pissed him off when he realized he was annoyed and agitated because he wasn’t near her.


He needed something else to do. He’d run the vacuum, washed his dishes, and thrown a load of clothes in the decrepit washer, but he was out of little tasks to keep himself busy. He should take a nap before he had to patrol, but he was too wound up. Bella had agreed to come to the bonfire the next night, and he could hardly stand the wait. He paced like a caged animal through his little house and ended up back in the kitchen. For once he wasn’t looking for food.


He spotted the crow’s feather on the little wooden table and the light of inspiration dawned.


He ran to his room, grabbed some paper and pencils out of the tiny desk he’d had since he was a kid, and ran back to the kitchen.


As he sat sketching, erasing, and re-sketching, he thought happily of the night before—or much earlier that morning. Over multiple mugs of tea and coffee, Bella had accepted the idea of some of the Quileutes being werewolves. The legends were true about the Cold Ones, why not young braves that could morph into giant wolves?


She had seemed disappointed the feather had no apparent mystical properties.


As they were talking, Paul neglected to mention that a vampire had been near her house and he happened to have bitten off a few of his fingers. Sam wasn’t fooled. He kept looking at him funny when the fingers would twitch or wiggle inside the tins.


It was probably a good thing Bella couldn’t hear it.


Bella even acknowledged the fact that Sam was trying to keep her safe by not allowing Jacob to see her since he had just phased and wasn’t happy about it—phasing into a horse-sized wolf or being ordered to stay away from Bella.


During their conversation, Sam and Paul had given her their phone numbers and invited her to the bonfire on Friday evening.


When the topic of imprinting had been brought up, she had gotten angry all over again, called them both “really big jerks,” and threw them both out of the house.


Paul hadn’t been called a “really big jerk” since he was five.


He’d run as a human all the way back to La Push because he hadn’t wanted to mess up the feather by carrying it in his teeth as a wolf.


Sam had caught up to him at home and said there’d have to be a meeting with the Elders because Paul had attacked a Cullen without provocation. There were bound to be repercussions.


Paul had smirked, folded his arms over his chest, and arrogantly cocked his head to the side before saying, “I don’t see any problem, Sam. I was protecting my imprint.”


Sam paused in thought, brought his hand to his chin, and nodded slowly. The permanent frown line between his brows smoothed out a little.


It seemed Sam hadn’t considered that angle and he had left, looking slightly less troubled.


Sam had phoned later, right in the middle of lunch, and had let Paul know Bella called and told him she would be at the bonfire on First Beach the next night. In other wolf news, patrols would be stepped up around Bella’s house, since at least one of the Cullens was back in town. So far, there had been no phone calls from the coven leader, Carlisle.


Paul had been a little disappointed that Bella hadn’t called him. They had both left their numbers with her.


Smiling to himself, he was admiring his drawing when there was a series of sharp knocks on his front door. Sounded too much like a Cop Knock, but he knew no police would be showing up at his door. The Council made sure of it. That, and the fact he was too busy patrolling for vamps to bother with getting in normal trouble anymore.


Annoyed, he dropped his pencil and shoved his papers to the center of the table. He stomped to the door and yanked it open.


Jacob Black was standing there, his jaw and shoulders tense.


“What do you want, Jacob? I’m busy. Aren’t you supposed to be doing homework or—”


Paul didn’t get to finish his sentence because he had to duck out of the way of Jacob’s fist.


He snagged Jacob’s arm, yanked him forward, and kneed him in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him. Paul grabbed his shoulders and heaved him out into the front yard. He bounded after him and reached to get a fistful of Jacob’s hair to lift him up and nail him again, but Jacob’s hands clamped onto Paul’s forearm and he swept his feet out from under him.


Jacob miscalculated that move. Paul landed like a ton of bricks right on top of him. Paul rolled, slammed his fist into Jacob’s jaw and leapt away from him.


“What the hell is your problem now, Black?” Paul had lowered his stance and both fists were clenched in front of him. “PMS-ing again?”


Jacob staggered to his feet, holding his sore jaw, his eyes shooting daggers at the older boy.


“Bella,” he sneered.


Paul gritted his teeth and let out a groaning growl. “Oh, you asshole. Do you think I did that on purpose? You’ve been in Sam’s, Jared’s, and Quil’s heads. If they’d had any control over it, do you think Sam would have imprinted on Emily and turned Leah into the Eternal Bitter Bitch? They were engaged you know. And Quil’s a fuckin’ horn dog. If he could choose, why the hell would he imprint on a toddler? Why are you pissed at me?”


“Because she’s—”


“Because she’s yours? Because you saw her first? Fuck that.”


Jacob jabbed a thick finger toward Paul. “Sam wouldn’t let me go see her after I phased. I could’ve—” Jacob pressed his lips into a straight line and shook his head. “You’re the biggest slut on the Rez and if you put one hand on her—”


“I think I’m gonna get more than one hand on that sweet ass.”


Jacob roared and exploded into a spinning storm of claws, red fur, and fangs.


Expecting that comment to set off the younger wolf, Paul was ready and cartwheeled away, landing on his four silver-grey paws. He didn’t wait for Jacob to hit the ground and turn toward him; suddenly feeling as if he had to protect his imprint and his claim on her, he launched himself at the stumbling wolf. His lower canines caught and ripped through the thick hide across Jacob’s withers, as his paws slapped him to the ground.


Jacob might have been a little bigger and heavier, but Paul had even more reason to fight.


As Jacob thudded to the lawn, Paul continued his flight over him, pirouetting on his hind paws to face the red wolf scrambling to get up.


Before Paul could strike again, their alpha’s thunderous command to halt reverberated through their heads.


Each of them collapsed into a wheezing, panting heap.


What is going on here? Sam, in all his midnight black glory, stood between them, his eyes glittering with anger.


They were soon surrounded by the rest of the pack.


Paul glowered at Jacob. Did you tell everybody you were going to come over here to get your ass kicked?


Wincing, Jacob dropped his head to the ground. I told Quil.


Paul snorted with disgust and scooted farther away from him. Dumb ass. Telling Quil is like telling everybody.


Embry’s tongue lolled out of the side of his mouth in a huge grin. Yeah, Jake. You know—telephone, telegraph, tell-a-Quil.


Hey! Quil complained. I resemble that remark.


Off to the side, Jared had a big toothy smile. Nyuk. Nyuk. Nyuk.


Shut UP! Sam pointed his snout heavenward, inhaled deeply, and closed his eyes for a moment, wondering why he was burdened with the five stooges of the supernatural world. Everybody’s calm now, right? Jacob and Paul. What is going on here?


Paul imprinted on Bella and I—


A ragged growl ripped through Paul’s chest. Quit your damn bleating! You sound more like a lamb than a—


Shut it! Sam pinned them both with his heated glare. I was there. I know Paul imprinted on Bella. You know, from the pack mind, that we don’t have any control over it. Sam sighed as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Sometimes, he did. If he had hands, he’d be trying to pull his hair out. Jacob, I’m telling you now to behave yourself. Paul did not choose to imprint on Bella. Speaking of Bella … She called me today and graciously accepted my invitation to the bonfire tomorrow night even though she knows she doesn’t have to. I told her about it right before she kicked me and Paul out of her house. Sam sighed again. Jacob, you also know why I told you to stay away from her. I was going to lift the order, but now I don’t think I can. If you can’t control phasing into a wolf yet—


But Sam! I have to see her!


The growl in Paul’s chest took on an even more sinister tone. Why? You think you’re gonna imprint on her, too?


Quil looked between his snarling pack-mates. Weirder shit has happened.


Jared’s eyes grew round in shock. Dude. Don’t even say shit like that. The gods can’t be that cruel.


Shaking his head back and forth, Embry eyed his pack brothers worriedly. I’d hope the gods would know if that happened, we’d be down two wolves. Permanently.


Shut up! Sam snapped at them. Jacob, if you can’t control yourself, you cannot go to the bonfire while Bella is there. You cannot try to beat Paul’s ass for imprinting on Bella.


Can he kick his ass for other stuff? Quil blinked innocently at Sam.


Sam narrowed his darkening yellow eyes at Quil. Jacob, you cannot kick Paul’s ass. Period.


Paul snorted. Jacob can’t kick my ass. He stood up and shook out his thick fur. Are we done here? I’ve got shit to do. See ya.


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